Although we call our weekly circle a "Healing Circle", it could also be called a talking circle, or sharing circle, or prayer circle. The purpose of our particular circle is to share struggles, pain as well as joys and successes; we also take time to share the smudge and pray to the Triune Creator (Father, Son and Great Spirit). Healing takes place when people can share and pray together in a spirit of respect and mutual support. Our circle is set up as a mixed circle; in the past we have held mens only and womens only circles.
At our Centre we have a special room set aside which is called a ceremonial room (or prayer room). This is the place we have our circles. We sit in a circle on cushions on the floor. Our sweetgrass, sage, drum, and feathers are kept in this room. We make sure there is a good supply of kleenex tissue; as people share together their pain and brokenness, tears long held back often spill forth.
Talking circles are useful when the topic under consideration has no right or wrong answer, or when people need to share their feelings. The purpose of a sharing/talking circle is to create a safe environment for people to share their point of view, and share their feelings with others.
This process helps people gain a sense of trust in each other.
The basic rule is that the group sits in a circle and each person gets a chance to say whatever is on their mind without being criticized or judged by others. Sometimes groups pass around a feather, stone, or talking stick. Whoever is holding the object has the floor
In our circle, the elder begins by sharing the smudge, saying an opening prayer, and introducing one of the objects mentioned above. Then we go around the circle sharing whatever we wish to share from our hearts. After the elder says a few words from his perspective, we go around the circle again to each offer a prayer. Finally the elder concludes with a closing prayer. Our circle, with approx. 10 persons attending, usually takes approx. 45 minutes to complete. Having enough time available is important as there may be one or two individuals who require more time to share and to pray.
During the circle time, people are free to respond however they want as long as they follow these rules:
- All comments should be addressed directly to the question or issue not to comments that another participant has made. Both negative and positive comments about what anyone else in the circle says should be avoided. Just say what you want to say in a positive manner. Speak from the heart.
- Only one person speaks at a time. Everyone else should be listening in a non-judgemental way to what the speaker is saying. Some groups find it useful to signify in some way who has the floor. Going around the circle systematically is one way to achieve this. Another is to use some object (such as a feather or a stone) which the person who is speaking holds and then passes to the next person who has indicated a desire to speak.
- Silence is an acceptable response. No one should be pressured at any time to contribute if they feel reticent to do so. There must be no negative consequences, however subtle, for saying "I pass".
- At the same time everyone must feel invited to participate. Some mechanism for ensuring that a few vocal people don't dominate the discussion should be built in. An atmosphere of patient and non-judgemental listening usually helps the shy people speak out and the louder ones to moderate their participation. Going around the circle in a systematic way, inviting each person to participate by simply mentioning each name in turn can be an effective way to even out participation.
- It is often better to hold talking circles in groups of ten to fifteen rather than with a large group, because in smaller groups each person has time to say what they need to say without being pressured by time.
- No comments which put down others or oneself should be allowed. Some agreed way of signaling the speaker when this is occurring should be established (e.g. holding up a card labeled "Put Down"). Self put downs include such comments as, "I don't think anyone will agree with me, but ...," or "I'm not very good at ....".
- Speakers should feel free to express themselves in any way that is comfortable: by sharing a personal story, by using examples or metaphors, by making analytical statements, etc..
- Some groups have found it useful to encourage participants to pray silently for the one who is speaking, or to at least consciously send the speaker loving feelings. In this way listeners are supporting the speaker and not tuning out while they think about what they will say when it is their turn.
- No one who is under the influence of any mind altering substance should participate in the circle.
Note: Most of the above points were adapted by John Stellingwerff from The Sacred Tree Teachers Guide published by the Four Worlds Development Project.
Pastoral Counselling and Referrals
9:00 a.am.- 4:30 p.m. daily
- friendly supportive atmosphere
- free coffee/tea; free local telephone
- daily newspaper; current information
- meditation/ceremonial room
- daily (9:15 a.m.) prayer circle
Soup and Bannock Lunch
Every Wednesday at noon
Cook: Elizabeth Sather
Striving For Excellence Youth Program
A youth program Supporting Native Youth ( 16-25 years) in their spiritual healing journey by providing spiritual direction
[A Canadian Heritage Project]
Public Internet Access Computer Lab
Make use of the Centre's computer to search for work, visit government sites, other agencies, e-mail etc.
[This computer access program has been provided by Community Access Program and Industry Canada]
Health for Two: For Mother and Child
Aboriginal Prenatal Group. A chance to talk to people interested in you and your baby. Help to find resources in your neighbourhood.
Contact Michelle Nieviadomy
Arrowhead Riders Youth Mountain Bike Program
Invite your friends and come biking with us on cool trails in the city. Bikes and snacks provided.
Call Harold for more information!
[Sponsored by Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation and NORCO Bikes.]
Please contact Harold Roscher